The allegedly "ultra-liberal" New York Times features a blog called Home Fires, highlighting the writings of veterans who have returned from war. Now part of my daily reading list......won't my boss be happy...
The Army, and especially the infantry, gives its junior leaders tremendous responsibility. The rough world of the 82nd Airborne Division was a steep learning curve for me, a freshly minted lieutenant accustomed to the studious habits of Stanford University, of its School of Engineering, no less. I learned an awful lot and, I think, emerged a better person.
More recently, I’ve realized some of my beliefs have formed so slowly and subtly that their learning has been entirely unappreciated. I’ve learned that no matter what, life goes on — it’ll do so with or without any one of us — and I’ve found a measure of respect for selfishness; for people who look out for themselves and their lives yet to come. This is surely cynical.
If there’s redemption in the selfishness, it has to do with loving life, with respecting yourself enough not to end your days prematurely or in futile pursuits. Yes, I said it. Somewhere between my second and third tours, I came to believe that our foreign, undeclared wars flouted our Constitution and made us less safe — from terrorism, from debt and from tyranny at home. Believing this wasn’t easy, but I couldn’t help it. Without faith in our military endeavors, my long-held notions about duty, heroism and fighting the good fight didn’t survive long.
I think you’re only a hero for as long as your image is useful, as evidenced most dramatically by then-Major George S. Patton’s cavalry charge against World War I veterans protesting for their pay in 1932, and General Douglas MacArthur’s zeal in pursuing them across the Anacostia River even after President Hoover ordered an end to the assault. If you’re not troubled by history, you’re not studying it correctly. Let’s choose our role models carefully.